What Exhibition Games Teach Us About Politics

Tribalism gets worse as political stakes rise, trapping us in a dangerous feedback loop.

One of the reasons politics is often so bad in practice is because what people care about within the political arena isn’t what a rational outside observer would say they ought to care about. For example, very few Americans have strong policy preferences, or at least strong policy preferences outside of the context of political parties. Which policies they support at any given time aren’t a matter of careful examination of those policy’s costs and benefits or their permissibility within existing legal frameworks, but rather whether they’re the preferred policies of one’s political tribe. That’s how you get Republicans flipping on free trade, for example, or Democrats abandoning their anti-war principles when a Democrat’s in the White House. Most Americans don’t care (much) about public policy. They care about political affiliation.

Political ethicist. Writer. Podcaster. Free Market Buddhist.

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